The Kansai Episode: Earthern Promises

If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, then you become something else entirely.

When shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa built his retirement villa, he, as any retiree did, appreciated the finer things in life, namely, art, music and beauty. While he did model Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) after the similar looking Kinkakuji, his grandfather’s retirement home, Yoshimasa dedicated the complex to the betterment of culture. Here, the art of the tea ceremony, flower arrangement, noh theater, poetry, garden design and architecture were honed and developed – with the values still in use today in modern Japanese art. Unlike the gold leafed Kinkakuji which it’s often compared to, the Silver Pavilion was never covered in silver. While it is one of only two buildings in the complex that hasn’t been destroyed by fires or earthquakes, it has gone through several renovation phases to keep it well-preserved.

At Kinkakuji, the design elements are purposed to express upon and impress on the extravagance of the aristocracy. The architecture deliberately allows views of the inside all whilst keeping it inaccessible to the intentional prying eyes of the public. This is completely contrary to Ginkakuji. The meticulously maintained dry sand garden fronting the Hondo (main hall) displays painting on its sliding doors that cannot be entered nor seen. Beside that, the Togudo houses a study room of 4.5 tatami mats, reputedly the oldest existent example of the modern architectural style, which is also closed to the public. You’ve just gotta trust that it’s there, really.

The Philosopher’s Walk. According to the leaf color monitoring chart, or simply, the news, this was one of the first few places to bloom, and subsequently become bare.

We veer off the path towards Ginkakuji.

Note the sand garden and volcano.

I loved the synergy between the tree and the fabric.

A pond full of coins.

Up and around the back of the Pavilion we go.

The view.

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